Ihara Saikaku’s “Life of a Sensuous Woman”: Novels are considered the longest types of literature in the world and remember that we’re reading only an excerpt of Ihara Saikaku’s works originally directed to both men then women. Given his subject matter and narrative about a woman who slept with ten thousand men, it’s not surprising that this author sold a whole lot of books. However, it’s the morals and values that emerge, peek, and leak through his pages that raises the merely sexual & salacious to the level of important & enduring, entertaining & lasting literature. After you have finished this week’s readings of Saikaku’s “Life of a Sensuous Woman, look back at and re-read the introduction to Japanese Popular Literature, then perhaps jot down a few notes & main points about Thursday’s provided web link on Shintoism to help you remember & lock in key features of this unit on Japanese literature and ground your understanding more fully.
Writing Assignment: Write then edit a short commentary (at least 150 words minimum) discussing whether you think Saikaku’s work is ultimately a moral one of genuine redemption or is the Buddhist confessional frame just a convenient way of including lured details? Do you think his awareness of gender injustice & social realism would have been watered-down & less prominent without such details? State reasons for your stance. Remember that Life of a Sensuous Woman was not considered literature in its day, as lyric poetry was more highly esteemed, but since then the author has been credited for his realism and truth-telling.
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